UPDATE 2-Health insurer Cigna set to buy Express Scripts – WSJ


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(Reuters) – U.S. health insurer Cigna Corp (CI.N) is close to buying pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co (ESRX.O), the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The terms of the potential deal were not known, but a deal could be announced as soon as Thursday, the newspaper said. on.wsj.com/2IdidFs

Express Scripts was worth $41.43 billion as of Wednesday’s close, while No. 5 U.S. health insurer Cigna had a market cap of $47.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.

A deal between Cigna and Express Scripts would follow the $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna Inc (AET.N) by drugstore chain CVS Health Corp(CVS.N) and would also reflect a move toward vertical consolidation, where members of a supply chain combine.

Healthcare payers and pharmacies are responding to a shifting landscape, including changes in the U.S. Affordable Care Act, rising drug prices and the threat of competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

The CVS-Aetna deal was seen pressuring rival insurers, drugmakers, pharmaceutical benefits managers and retail pharmacies to consider mergers or switching partners to try to keep up with the potential healthcare cost savings or increase in profit margins.

Cigna is finding a new partner in Express Scripts after antitrust regulators last year said that a combination between Cigna and Anthem Inc (ANTM.N) was anti-competitive.

Express Scripts declined to comment on the report, while Cigna could not be immediately reached for comment.

Shares of Express Scripts are up 8.6 pct over the last year, while Cigna is up 27.6 percent. Since the beginning of the year, Express Scripts stock is down 1.6 percent, while Cigna is down 4.4 percent.

Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan, Philip George and Akshay Lodaya in Bengaluru; Writing by Peter Henderson in Oakland; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier


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